What I’m Reading Lately

Last week we (me, B, K) took a road trip up to Canada for our summer vacation. We drove up through Boston, into Portland ME, and hopped on an overnight ferry cruise to Nova Scotia before trekking further up to Prince Edward Island where we spent a few peaceful days relaxing.

With all the driving and ferrying I had plenty of time to read. Here’s what I’ve been reading both on my Kindle app (for iPhone/iPad) and real paperbacks.

astonish me maggie shipstead

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. I read this on Kindle. It is a ballet story that follows young dancer Joan throughout her life as she moves from being a professional ballerina to being a mom and wife and all the drama that comes in between. She has a brief and passionate fling with a Russian dancer in her early days that follows her throughout the story.

Review: As soon as I got into the book, about 2 chapters in, I couldn’t put it down. I did ballet growing up and ballet stories have a special place in my heart. Very well written and a very engaging story. Even if you don’t love ballet you will love this book. (I will admit that in the beginning of the book, when I wasn’t really sure what direction the story was going to take, I was slightly paranoid that some horrible tragedy was going to happen – thankfully it didn’t.)

flirting with french by william alexander

Flirting with French by William Alexander. Another Kindle book (which I started on the subway). A true story in which William sets out to master French, the ever-elusive language of romance… it turns out to be harder than he thought.

Review: It took me a few days to read this but once I got going I couldn’t stop. I too would love to become fluent in French, but it is massively difficult. Admittedly, I haven’t put in the effort that William has. If you like languages you will love this.

missing mom book joyce carol oates

Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates. I picked this up simply because I miss my mom. I got it in paperback at a store in Charlottetown, PEI. This is a story of a woman, Nikki, who loses her mom tragically and suddenly when she (Nikki) is 31. It follows Nikki over the year after her mom’s death as she grows and changes and her life continues on.

Review: This was my first book by Joyce Carol Oates and it will not be my last. What a beautifully written (descriptive but not flowery) and engaging story. I couldn’t put it down.

paris key book

The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. This was sent to me as an advance copy (paperback) and comes out tomorrow (Sept 1). Genevieve Martin moves to Paris after separating from her husband and her uncle dies (it’s her mom’s brother; her mom passed away when Genevieve was a teen) to take over his locksmith shop. She learns about her family’s history while figuring out who she is herself.

Review: I loved the writing and the story. I am a sucker for Paris. I’ll have to check out more of Juliet Blackwell’s books.

What are you reading lately?

Keri’s 8 Foods Cleanse [The New You (and improved!) Diet]

A few weeks ago I received a copy of Keri Glassman’s new book, The New You and Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever (it’s on the the Kindle too).

new-you-and-improved-diet

I was very excited for this book because Keri’s 3 taglines for this book are:

  • Eat more, not less!
  • Catch some zzz’s!
  • And have more sex (you heard me!)

Sounds like a plan anyone in their right mind would want to follow and enjoy following – nothing like the typical restrictive diet.

Keri catapults you right into her plan. She intros a quickstart “Eight Foods Cleanse” early on – page 27 to be exact. I figured if I am going to give this book a proper review (to come…) I should at least try out the cleanse. To be honest, I haven’t ever really followed a proper “diet” plan. I generally just try to eat less/move more. I’m really interested to see if I feel any different at the end of this “cleanse”. In the past I’ve tried doing the “raw/juicing” thing, “macrobiotic“, etc…

Cleanse… yes, that word with bad connotations. Keri’s 8 Foods Cleanse is not really a cleanse in the usual sense of the word – no long days of sipping juices with your stomach rumbling – this cleanse is simply eating a few simple, wholesome foods for just 4 short days.

I am jumping right in today, though I did make a few mods based on what I had in my kitchen this morning (yes this was a last minute decision). I’ll go shopping tonight for the proper ingredients! Here’s what my day will look like:

  • Breakfast is 1 egg and 2 egg whites with black pepper and ground black sesame (those spices are my own touch on this). I’m also having a cup of organic coffee with unsweetened almond milk and this chocolate stevia (Thanks Ron!). (Keri’s plan doesn’t include coffee… I am easing my way into this, so I’m gonna have it for now.)
  • No morning snack – I have breakfast ~10am so there is no time for a snack before lunch.
  • Lunch – a salad of romaine, seaweed, tomato, apple (leftovers) + 1/2 cup chickpeas + 1 hard boiled egg + 2 teaspoons EVOO. (Yum!)
  • Snack: 1 Ronnybrook plain whole milk yogurt with cinnamon. (This is what I have in the fridge – this is off plan.)
  • Dinner: TBD – Salmon & greens I believe, and I need to go get an avocado.

This cleanse may be a little low in calories, but it’s only 4 days – and after a few months of indulging (during renovations we didn’t have a kitchen – and even if you’re careful, eating out for every single meal can get really old really fast). I think I can follow it for 4 days and then start adding in more of Keri’s favorite Empowering Foods.

I’ll be back later with my take on the rest of Keri’s Diet Rules – one of them is “Clean Out Your Closet” – so you know I am gonna love it.

On Being Vegan – Skinny Bitch Book Review

I wish I could be a vegan. I just finished a book called Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, and it’s making me rethink almost everything that I had always believed about food. I say, “I wish” about being vegan because I know that my body does best when I have animal products in my diet. I feel great when I include things like eggs (very often), yogurt (often), and meat (rarely) in my meals. I just wish I could have those things without harming animals – wishful thinking. Maybe this attitude seems selfish, but I take health very seriously and I do whatever I can to keep my body in great shape.

Since I won’t become a vegan, I’m going to at least try to buy more organic and local foods. My new house in California is near a great Asian grocery store and I will always have access to fresh produce.

On a side note, my sister, a vegetarian since the age of 9, read one chapter of the book and promptly declared herself a vegan. (She has since gone back to being vegetarian because being vegan can be very restricting for both the mind and the body.)

On the ride up through California, my mom and I passed a factory farm called Harris Ranch on Interstate Highway 5. I was sleeping at first, but the stench was so bad that I woke up. This feedlot is California’s largest – it holds about 100,000 cows on 800 acres. There is no grass, only mud and dust. They live in their own excrement and are injected with hormones to become fatter before they’re sent on to the slaughterhouse.

After seeing and smelling something like that I don’t want to eat the meat that comes from those animals. You smell the farm before you can even see it. It was pretty terrible and I think my mom was rather shocked (she doesn’t eat beef anyway). After seeing that, I want to make an effort to find humanely raised meat (for the rare occasions that I do eat meat).

Skinny Bitch the book – my verdict:

Going back to the book – I would strongly recommend Skinny Bitch for anyone who can take their style of writing. It’s crude and straightforward and they are not afraid to criticize. It’s graphic and gross at times, but effective. It’ll make you think about what you put in your mouth and make you aware of the dishonesty of the American government and our regulation systems.